First patient receives combined pig kidney transplant, heart pump

April 24, 2024

Doctors in New York City performed the first-ever combined heart pump implant and pig kidney transplant on a terminally ill patient.

Surgeons at NYU Langone Health carried out the first-of-its-kind operation on Lisa Pisano in two stages over the course of nine days earlier this month, according to a Wednesday statement from NYU Langone.

Pisano, 54, is a New Jersey native who had heart failure and end-stage kidney disease. Chronic medical conditions prevented her from being a candidate for a human heart and kidney transplant, the statement said.

In order for her to receive a mechanical heart pump, the possibility of a kidney transplant was required since there is a high mortality rate in patients on dialysis with such pumps, doctors noted.

The two-stage procedure made Pisano the first patient with a mechanical heart pump to receive an organ transplant of any kind, doctors said. She is the second person to receive a gene-edited pig kidney transplant.

“All I want is the opportunity to have a better life,” Pisano said in a statement. “After I was ruled out for a human transplant, I learned I didn’t have a lot of time left. My doctors thought there may be a chance I could be approved to receive a kidney from a genetically modified pig, so I discussed it with my family and my husband. He has been by my side throughout this ordeal and wants me to be better.”

Pisano’s first procedure, on April 4, was the heart pump implant. Without the pump, her life expectancy was either days or weeks, according to doctors at NYU Langone. The pig kidney transplant was performed by a second surgical team on April 12.

“The measure for success is a chance at a better quality of life and to give Lisa more time to spend with her family,” said Dr. Nader Moazami, chief of the heart and lung transplantation division at NYU’s School of Medicine.

An estimated 104,000 people are on the waiting list for a transplant, with more than 89,000 of those waiting for a kidney, per NYU Langone Health.

Nearly 808,000 individuals in the U.S. face end-stage kidney disease, though only 27,000 received a transplant last year, according to NYU Langone.